Saturday, September 22, 2012

on humility: wise words from a writer

"Do you know what that is to be humble? The word comes from the Latin words humilis and humus. To be down low. To be of the earth. To be on the ground. That’s where I went when I wrote the last word of my first book. Straight onto the cool tile floor to weep. 
 I’d stopped being grandiose. Which meant I had to write my book. My very possibly mediocre book. My very possibly never-going-to-be-published book. My absolutely no-where-in-league-with-the-writers-I’d-admired-so-much-that-I-practically-memorized-their-sentences book. It was only then, when I humbly surrendered, that I was able to do the work I needed to do." 

**All of the people I look up to share that trait: humility. They are aware of their own limitations, the failures it took to get where they are, and that there will always be a way to improve, a way to evolve. Before we become disappointed for not accomplishing a goal, it's okay to remind ourselves that a lot of them take time. Expecting something to occur quickly is dismissing the very nature of the process. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

On a long distance relationship

It's Friday night and time to take a break from the monotony of studying. I received an e-mail from a reader a couple weeks ago and wanted to answer it through a post. Here's a clip of it:

Dear Saumya,
How do you handle a long distance relationship? What's it like? 

So, honestly, how is it? This might come as a surprise but it's wonderful. Now, a lot of that has to do with the fact that I'm with the most understanding man I've ever met but from what I've experienced---and everyone's story is different---long distance has served as a magnifying glass for what's already there. I am more present because of it. He forces me to value myself, to indulge. We put each other on a pedestal---on the phone and in person. Since we rarely see each other, we make the most out of our weekends. 

Also, I get to live alone during this time in my life, which is a privilege my own mother didn't even have. I know this isn't for everyone but I'm grateful to have the choice to marry later in life. I've been able to cultivate a relationship with myself (cue lame, Sex and the City dialogue) that doesn't worry about loneliness.

He's following his career while I'm doing the same. Just knowing my personality type, I'd be resentful later if I chose something solely because of his location. Whatever little free time I have, I can be with my classmates or write or learn something new. A lot of relationships suffer when one person enters medical school and I realize how lucky we've been. 

Different people have different preferences so it might not be ideal for everyone. I get that. 
And of course, I miss him all the time and often long for the days I was in New York, scrambling to finish a feminist philosophy paper while he rubbed my shoulders. But I'm also grateful. And fortunate.

So, to conclude this post, these are three big things I've taken away so far:

1. It'll hurt like Hell when you leave each other. As in, there will be a real ache and too much space and silence and a graying resentment towards circumstances. But with a little time, life picks back up and if you're lucky, it's pulsating with things only you've established. No, you'll never stop missing them but you'll learn to build a more fertile life on your own because of it.

2. Distance won't be to blame if things don't go well. I was in another long distance relationship before and thought that was the problem. It was only a highlighter for the other issue. The sacrifice is not only worth it for the right person but it'll also be smooth. Yes, smooth. Long distance doesn't have to equal disaster.

3. Relationships take work no matter where partners are located. They also demand a sense of independence and optimism. If long distance isn't for you, then so be it. But if you've decided to commit, then do just that. Don't let distance take away your gratitude. Don't give it the power or weight to  make your days seem empty. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Alex's Genre Blogfest

As part of Alex's blogfest, I have to list my favorite genre in music, books, and movies AND a guilty pleasure from one. Here it goes!

Movies: Old, black and white. Roman Holiday is my favorite. I love how Princess Ann waltzes out of her life because of curiosity. I love how she keeps that day as a secret folded in herself. I love the innocence, charm, and fear that only comes with falling in love for the first time, with finding someone who stretches you in new ways. 

Music: Classical Indian, especially when it uses the tabla. 
A little background: Tabla is a pair of hand drums commonly used in Kathak music. Kathak is the North Indian style of dance I learned growing up. Of course, tabla is used in many Indian songs (cue impromptu Bollywood scene in a meadow with the rain).

Books: Women's fiction--literary, upmarket, or commercial. 
Guilty Pleasure: Justin Bieber (cringe). My sister and I might have become addicted to "Boyfriend" this summer. 

What are your favorites? 

Monday, September 10, 2012

When you're too exhausted

A word that navigates through my mind on a daily basis. There are moments when I wonder if I want too much out of a day. Sometimes the words just don't flow. Or other times they do, but the energy isn't there to document them. 
I often come back to the same wishes---more time, more energy---fully aware of how greedy that is. Sometimes I'll see the women in the clinic and hospital, wishing I had the prowess to treat them but aware that before that, I have to do a lot of blatant memorization. 
Or I'll flip through a book, hoping I can write anything and everything. 

But then, those brief moments of awareness wriggle through, and things are wonderful again. 

For example, I remember how fortunate I am to have a man who respects me; the me I am now, the me who I hope to become. A man who inspires and indulges. 
Then I think of the patients who come to the hospital. Patients who are vulnerable enough to share their struggles, understanding towards my lack of skill. They just won't let me give up.
And often, I'll open my Word document of unfinished thoughts; fragments of ideas or dead ended nothings, that serve as a reminder that we are never, ever done. 
We never have to be. 

All of these elements are reminders that the brightest lights emerge through bleakness. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Quotes for the week

Medical school and editing have been especially grueling this week, so I thought I'd pass along some motivating quotes. Words, from those who are far wiser and more experienced than I'll ever be, have gotten me through a lot. 

"Don't let perfectionism paralyze you. If you're not failing, chances are, you're not trying hard enough." 

For it would seem - her case proved it - that we write, not with the fingers, but with the whole person. The nerve which controls the pen winds itself about every fibre of our being, threads the heart, pierces the liver.” 
 Virginia Woolf

“Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it’s the answer to everything. … It’s the streaming reason for living. To note, to pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing, to cherish the oddities, to let nothing go down the drain, to make something, to make a great flower out of life, even if it’s a cactus.”

—Enid Bagnold
“To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard.”

—Allen Ginsberg, WD

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Insecure Writer's Support Group: holding on and letting go

Ah, my first post for the lovely and necessary group Alex made: The Insecure Writer's Group! Today, I wanted to discuss if it's ever clear when it's time to hold on or let go.
Anyone who has ever written a story knows that most of us are figuring things out as we go along, right? Before I had the blogging community, I only had Google. No, seriously. I typed "how to write a novel" into that dependable search bar. Once I completed my first project, I sent all of it to an agent. She enjoyed it but thought it needed a rewrite. 
A rewrite? That's my work! That's my time! That's my effort! 
Instead of taking advice from those who knew a lot more than me, I struggled with clutching my words. The weird part? I knew that the agent was right. I did need a rewrite. I did need a fresher take on my themes. There were certain lessons I only grasped with time.

1.) You can rewrite an entire story and still keep the themes that made you write it in the first place
2.) Starting over can be difficult but is sometimes the only way to make a stronger piece
3.) Knowing when to hold on and when to let go is a case by case decision. There's no clear cut answer and there never will be. 

Of course, when everyone in my life asked how my writing was going and I told them I was starting over, they scoffed, as though I had been twiddling my thumbs the entire time. That, I realized, is where to let go. Let go of the doubts from others, from yourself. Let go of any white noise that comes in the way of your goal.